Joey Bart racked up eight total bases during his second four-hit game in four days to help muscle Double-A Richmond to a 9-5 win and a four-game sweep of Erie on Thursday at UMPC Park. He drove in two runs and scored twice.
He's playing his best baseball since moving up to the Eastern League three weeks ago, and the top Giants prospect only has four games to go until the end of his first full season as a pro. A couple of weeks off and autumn in Arizona await on the other side.
There's value in the timing of it all.
"I really do believe that," said Flying Squirrels manager Willie Harris. "I think it's important that you finish the season strong going into the offseason. That way, when Spring Training is right around the corner, you have momentum."
Video: Squirrels' Bart smacks two-run homer
MLB.com's No. 20 overall prospect only picked up steam in Erie, collecting nine hits in four games, the most recent of which was the only time all year he's reached base five times. He doubled to right field in the first inning, but No. 20 Tigers prospect Anthony Castro (5-3) struck out No. 2 Giants prospect Heliot Ramos and Gio Brusa to escape the frame unscathed. The Flying Squirrels catcher walked in the third before launching a two-run opposite-field shot to right off Castro in the fifth to put Richmond ahead, 4-0.
Bart singled to left in the seventh -- when he came home on Ryan Howard's three-run blast -- and the eighth, boosting his average in 19 Eastern League games to .290. It was below the Mendoza line a week ago, but a 12-for-26 road trip added more than 100 points to his average. He's hit safely in six of his last eight contests, four of which have been multi-hit outings. The 22-year-old also collected four hits Monday, when the Flying Squirrels took the series opener from the SeaWolves, 7-6.
Gameday box score
"He's just not fouling off the pitches that he's getting hits on now," Harris said. "He's being a little bit more aggressive in the batter's box. He's a big guy, has a really good approach and he finds holes, man. He's been finding some holes for us the last couple nights."
While the move to Richmond required a slight adjustment in the box, Bart has been in command behind plate since he arrived, the skipper said. The tempo of the team's games has picked up. Pitchers rarely shake Bart off. In Harris' eyes, that's a sign of trust.
"The way he calls the game and handles the pitching staff has been phenomenal," he said.
2019 MiLB include
After a four-game set with Bowie that begins on Friday, Bart's next challenge will be the talent-rich Arizona Fall League. It will be a chance to make up for the nearly two months he lost this season due to a fractured left hand.
Harris would like to see the Georgia Tech product work on his baserunning. It's nothing dramatic, but just things like reading balls in the dirt, taking an extra base, finding a way into scoring position. Because a scenario in which he's batting in front of, say, Buster Posey might not be too far off. That, however, is just the way one manager sees it.
"But overall, Joey Bart, he's going to be a really good player for a really long time," Harris said. "The more he plays, the better he's going to get."